WWE RAW REVIEW 26/09/2016: Double Take after Clash of Champions

The art of professional wrestling is one of the most socially active mediums of entertainment across the world. Millions watch men and women grapple for championships, financial success, accolades, celebrity status, and supposed immortality within the squared circle. The Hype Train provides a glancing review of WWE’s flagship show, Monday Night RAW, evaluating the show itself, and then commenting on the good, the bad, and everything else in-between. All aboard.

RAW Review: 26/09/2016

With a view on WWE Clash of Champions…

If you’re looking at a brief shot that summaries both RAW this past Monday, and the Clash of Champions PPV event on Sunday, we’ve got the punch line that many fans of the wrestling genre will agree with: RAW’s sinking ship continues to drown.

Our pessimism isn’t dramatic, or to sell stories (we don’t do this for money, but for a genuine interest) with punchy headlines. We at the Hype Train are realists. We believe that by simply out performing your competition with the feature articles produced on a weekly basis, is the only way to guarantee that people will continue to have (and grow) an interest in your product or brand. We love football (the English variant), sport, and all things media. There’s so much of it out there, you can’t take it for granted that the same people that adored you one day, will stay by your side in a rainy day. In entertainment, the mantra is simple. It’s Full Measures, or it’s nothing at all. Pose our viewpoints against the offerings of WWE Monday Night RAW, and its first exclusive pay-per-view, can we honestly say the same thing for them?

Quite simply, no.

A lot of fellow journalists out there, also enranced by the world of wrestling, a lot are oddly positive about Clash of Champions, but we don’t see what they believe. RAW furthered our views that the rebranded Night of Champions offered good value for in-ring action, but possessed the story telling abilities of a deceased Vince Russo. To follow that up, RAW repeated many, if not all, of the mistakes from Clash of Champion. There wasn’t enough there on the event, and on RAW, to make you dream big for next week or for the future. Instead wrestling analysts have short term concerns that if not fixed, WWE’s flagship show is either set for revolution or destruction. Last week we talked a lot about how RAW was a messy, over-indulging cake, but today the cake’s been dropped in the bin. After the latest viewing of RAW, we feel dissatisfied, and are still hungry for the promotion to serve up a lasting dish.

Clash of Champions was an illogical mess that had the good guys use bad guy tactics, then slowly dissented into disappointment when Roman Reigns won the US Championship, and the main event between Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins for the Universal Championship became an embarrassment with a Chris Jericho interruption that lasted long enough for Mick Foley to run a marathon. With any scripted or live shows, there are supposed to be building blocks that pile up episode to episode, with various plotlines and shifting character motivations. WWE programming is held to the same standards. Read through or glance at our previous RAW reviews, it’s been largely negative, with some enjoyable segments of the show to enjoy. If you sit through 3 hours of live content, only to be disappointed by the ending(s), does the WWE deserve to let off the hook if the overall feeling at the end of it all is frustration? If you went to a movie and the same thing happened, there was a lot of build-up, hype, and anticipation, but with a lukewarm, predictable finish, there’s a good chance you’d slate it in a personal review with friends.

Following on from Clash of Champions, RAW immediately echoed the frustrations from Clash of Champions, repeating the very steps that made a lot of people groggy and tired with the RAW brand. Bringing out Roman Reigns, only to screw the finish to a double count-out, against Rusev set the tone. No wonder why a fed up crowd found it very difficult to rally behind the wrestling talent before its eyes. There’s no sign of fixing the problems, and looking longer term, when the likes of Sami Zayn are left off the show entirely, with a host of other RAW stars left in wrestling Limbo. Rollins, Bayley, Enzo and Cass, every tag team, and every lower-card performer hasn’t found a voice, a home, or any consistency to sell the idea that RAW will be watchable, and most importantly, enjoyable.

Instead we got a night of rematches from the PPV, with the commentary team continually stating that management was granting many of the losers from the night before title rematches, even though they never laid claim to the championships in the first place. This week we got the US and Tag Team titles rematch, and next week is the Cruiserweight and Women’s rematches. This form of structure, a desperate booking to draw a short term audience, is something potentially damaging in the long term, added to the fact that these matches would be propelled further if the actual stories were told more passionately.

Reigns and Rusev were supposed to look like formidable bad-asses, but a 30 minute title match was laboured, slow, and didn’t legitimise the idea that either man is the worthy champion… Charlotte’s reign of dominance continued, but instead we got a weak Sasha Banks promo and in-ring scurry see the Champion running for the wind… We had TJ Perkins persisting with a feud he’s already won against Brian Kendrick, with the feud over Kendrick’s arrogance that he’s already won a title held by literally one person… We had two men (Sheamus and Cesaro) spend the entire show whinging about being the hot properties on RAW, only to act like spoilt rotten children that were fighting for invisible, made-up bragging rights… What this structure-less booking provides is a re-hash of what we’ve seen over and over from RAW, which is turns makes everything a viewer just watched a complete waste of everybody’s time. View it like this. You pay to go watch the Batman v. Superman movie, hated it, and then went to the cinema the next night to watch Captain America: Civil War, but they played the Superman movie, you wouldn’t be happy.

But it’s not all doom and gloom for the red brand…

The Cruiserweight’s, for the first time in a long time, actually provided a very good alternative on the show. New faces, fresh match ups, a new feel, it’s what Shane McMahon promised all along. What he didn’t bank on however was a fan reaction which saw an audience including chants of Randy Savage and CM Punk, both during TJ Perkins’s RAW debut. Aside from the new division, Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens's victory in the main event of RAW was well worked, and even though we are quick to slate Sasha Banks, the Women's segment among others potentially sets up a few good weeks of RAW.

WWE Clash of Champions Results: 25/09/2016

WWE Universal Championship Match

Kevin Owens (c) def. Seth Rollins

United States Championship Match

Roman Reigns def. Rusev (c)

Raw Women’s Championship Triple Threat Match

Charlotte (c) def. Sasha Banks & Bayley

Chris Jericho def. Sami Zayn

Best of Seven Series Finale

Cesaro vs. Sheamus ended in a No Contest

WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match

T.J. Perkins (c) def. Brian Kendrick

Raw Tag Team Championship Match

The New Day (c) def. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson

Kickoff Match

Nia Jax def. Alicia Fox

RAW Results: 26/09/2016

Roman Reigns vs. Rusev ended in a double count-out (United States Championship match)

New Day defeated Gallows and Anderson (Tag Team Championship match)

Bayley defeated Anna Fields

Rich Swann and Cedric Alexander defeated Drew Gulak and Lince Dorado

Sheamus and Cesaro defeated Nick Cutler and Willis Williams

TJ Perkins defeated Tony Nese

Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho defeated Enzo and Cass

The Good…

How many times in a row do we have to say this following? Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens were the best part of the show. The best friends were made to look very strong on RAW.

The main event match was satisfying, and for once Kevin Owens was booked as a solid champion. Let’s hope the memory of the Reigns defeats inside the Steel Cage fades quickly.

Sami Zayn being kept off RAW was probably for the best. They’ve nothing for the Underdog from the Underground, so it is wise to just keep him away from the flames of losing for at least one week. It’s also a bad thing though that Zayn can’t get something to do, considering we were promised new opportunities for wrestlers.

As much as we’re against so many title matches on free television, the Cruiserweight title needs some good exposure on TV. Kendrick and TJ should put on a good match, and it’s probably going to be the main reason we tune in next week.

The Bad…

Rusev received the ‘jobbers’ entrance to kick off RAW. By that we mean he didn’t get a televised entrance and was already in the ring.

Here is the list of people that Stephanie McMahon emasculated this week on RAW: Mick Foley, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, Sheamus, Cesaro.

Chants for Randy Savage and CM Punk in the TJ Perkins match are just disrespectful. Wrestling fans ‘want more’ from the business, and when it opens up a genuine alternative with actual NEW superstars, what’s the first thing that happens? CM Punk chants.

Gallows and Anderson probably regret signing for WWE. The final nail in the coffin was delivered on Monday Night RAW, with another loss that compounded them as serial losers. Maybe this tragedy will lead to a big win in the future?

To comment on RAW and Clash of Champions overall, we disagree that both the shows were an overall good spectacle. The wrestling matches have been good, but the pay-off is all too often a shambles.

Squash matches are becoming the norm, and we don’t like that. WWE is supposed to be the premier wrestling promotion, with the best competition. RAW’s not providing that, whatsoever.

Sasha Banks is very good in the ring, but we’re not sold on her promo skills with a microphone. Charlotte carried a ten minute back and forth that went nowhere until they announced a title match for next week.

Roman Reigns makes us want to turn off the channel. Enough already.

The US Championship match was one big negative this week. Rusev kept trying to escape the ring, and it ended with a non-finish. Not good enough considering the match last for nearly half an hour.

Everything else in-between…

The Cruiserweight division matches have been very good, but the crowds seem to be losing steam with their involvement very quickly. Essentially, these new additions aren’t being respected the way the WWE Network did.

We’d have preferred the Cruiserweight segments to not be so close to each other in the future. They could have opened the show with TJ Perkins.

For weeks we predicted that Sheamus and Cesaro would get a sketchy finish at Clash of Champions and then get a Tag Team title match. The series had solid wrestling, but we at the Hype Train weren’t too entertained overall. It was the same old nonsense for two months without an actual payoff. We also doubt The New Day will be disposed of as Tag Champions for a while until they break the record as longest tag champions in history.

To make matters worse for Sheamus and Cesaro, they teamed against two local wrestlers in a squash match. It barely made them look equipped for The New Day.

Seth Rollins is officially in wrestling limbo, and this will continue until they hit the ignition for a feud with Triple H. Feud to start at the Rumble?

Also on Rollins, he’s having the same storyline that Cena did. A decorated and successful champion having a ‘bad year’.

Kofi Kingston bled the ‘hard way’ on RAW, and looked a mess when pinning Anderson.

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